We've read about smoke signals and thought we understood how they worked. But you can see how creating a color contrast between the smoke and your environment can cause success or failure in your attempts. Great information to know!
If you have smoke grenades with you, use them in the same pattern as described for fires. Keep them dry so that they will work when you need them. Take care not to ignite the vegetation in the area when you use them.
These flares are part of an aviator's survival vest. The device consists of a pen-shaped gun with a flare attached by a nylon cord. When fired, the pen flare sounds like a pistol shot and fires the flare about 150 meters high. It is about 3 centimeters in diameter.
To have the pen flare ready for immediate use, take it out of its wrapper, attach the flare, leave the gun uncocked, and wear it on a cord or chain around your neck. Be ready to fire it in front of search aircraft and be ready with a secondary signal. Also, be ready to take cover in case the pilot mistakes the flare for enemy fire.
You may use rifle or pistol tracer ammunition to signal search aircraft. Do not fire the ammunition in front of the aircraft. As with pen flares, be ready to take cover if the pilot mistakes your tracers for enemy fire.
Red is the international distress color; therefore, use a red star cluster whenever possible. Any color, however, will let your rescuers know where you are. Star clusters reach a height of 200 to 215 meters, burn an average of 6 to 10 seconds, and descend at a rate of 14 meters per second.
Star Parachute Flares
These flares reach a height of 200 to 215 meters and descend at a rate of 2.1 meters per second. The M126 (red) burns about 50 seconds and the M127 (white) about 25 seconds. At night you can see these flares at 48 to 56 kilometers.
Mirrors or Shiny Objects
On a sunny day, a mirror is your best signaling device. If you don't have a mirror, polish your canteen cup, your belt buckle, or a similar object that will reflect the sun's rays. Direct the flashes in one area so that they are secure from enemy observation. Practice using a mirror or shiny object for signaling now; do not wait until you need it. If you have an MK-3 signal mirror, follow the instructions on its back (Figure 19-3).
So many beneficial signaling tips from Wilderness Survival. For even more information on audio and code signals, visit them here. The Star Parachute flares seem like an excellent resource to have in the event of an emergency.
Do You Have any Emergency Signals?
If you have knowledge of additional signals that you've found to be useful, or if you've ever been stuck in the outdoors and at the mercy of signals for survival, we would love to hear from you. Tell us about your situation in the comments section below!